It was a crisp Fall morning as we stood at the base of the overgrown Ski hill. It would be a challenging hike up the steep incline but it was the only way of accessing the resort without being seen. A cool breeze came in through the trees, causing the lift chairs to sway back and forth over our heads in their eternal positions on the sagging wire. They had been suspended there for over a decade now and as I started up the hill, I wondered just how long they would hold out before the cables snapped and they plumetted to the ground. With such a thought in mind I moved from under them and followed the center until it crested on the outskirts of the resort in an overgrown clearing. We made our way through the thigh-high grass of what used to be the golf course, stepping over rusting golf caddies, ski equipment and a sea of shattered china from the dining room. Making it out the other side we found ourselves in the middle of a massive complex and knew we were beginning this explore with two counts against us. The resort rested on 96 acres which worked poorly with the fact that winter was closing in, taking away the advantage of a full day of sunlight. There wasn’t a moment to waste so we assessed our options and took advantage of the nearest entrance which had lost its door, offering silent and easy access. Once inside, three sets of double doors stood open to our left,marking the entrance to the formal dining room. As we approached, shock set in at the sight which lay before us.
The tables were capsized, the chairs thrown haphazardly into piles and tiny explosions of neon paint covered everything. These walls, which once captured the lively buzz of guests’ laughter and conversation, the clinking of champaign glasses and dinnerware as they enjoyed an exquisite meal, had become the battle field for Paint Ball wars between groups who had grown tired of playing in the woods. Moving down the hallway, the walls opened up into the once elegant upstairs lobby. The faded chandeliers offered no illumination on the couches doing their best to look dignified as they huddled together among broken glass, trying to avoid the moss coming to consume them. Irradicated in the face of war, we passed peeling wallpaper, splintered doors and make shift barricades until we came upon the bar. The faint sun cast little light on the shattered wall of glass behind the bartender’s counter and I ventured into the darkness with my light. Perched on the end of the bar sat an old rotary phone undisturbed under years of dust with a stack of order forms silently waiting for the next ring. As I stood envisioning the last people taking orders and delivering drinks, a burst of light exploded into the room and I spun around to see my partner had pulled a heavy set of curtains back, revealing a row of windows offering an amazing view of the auditorium.
The stage looked incredible and I had to see it up close so we made our way inside the heart of the resort. Wanting a better view, I looked to my right and crawled up the rickety ladder inside the lighting box. When I came out the top I had a bird’s eye view to a very special stage. Such entertainers as Mel Brooks, Red Buttons and Billy Crystal got their starts on that stage and suddenly, watching my partner wander around up there, seeing it from afar wasn’t good enough. I climbed down to groumd level and made my way down to the front, taking his hand and holding tight as he hoisted me up onto the shifting wooden planks and I turned around and looked out into what would have been a sea of faces there to be entertained. To each side of me the velvety gold curtains still hung, dirty and worn with time but vibrant with memories as they were lifted on the entertainers of days gone by. To think that I was standing where Jerry Lewis had graced the stage put a smile on my face and I turned to look around backstage. The sound room was very small and not very sophisticated compared to today’s standards and I laughed at the sight of scattered cassette tapes along the counter. I heard my name being called from the distance and looked up to see that my partner had disappeared backstage. I left my position and took the backstage hallway to the exit where my partner was waiting. Why, I asked, was I rushed back out into the daylight. But the dark moving shadows overhead brought my gaze to the skies and I saw a band of blackend clouds making their way toward us.
We were ahead of the storm for now but rather far from the car we had left in the fields and getting caught in the rain could mean trouble if they turned muddy, so I reluctantly agreed to head back….until we rounded the corner and came upon the outside pool. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to stay a few more minutes. Blue skies still reflected in the murky water of the kidney-shaped pool as I stepped to the edge and looked beyond the grass that had begun to emerge. There was something beneath the surface but I couldn’t make out more than shapes. A bridge had been erected across the center of the pool so I moved to stand at the foot of it. The paint was peeling, revealing slight fractures in the cement but that wasn’t enough to stop me. Inching my way up the incline, particles of cement dropped into the water below as I kept a slow and steady pace. I reached the arch and peered into the water, watching the shapes come into focus as deck chairs and couch cushions. No longer entertaining guests, the pool had succumbed to the games of vandals and as I stared with disappointment, the surface began to dancing as the sky released tiny droplets of rain. The clouds had drifted in and a look to my partner said it was time to go. As he jogged around the pool, I came down the other side of the bridge to meet him and we broke into a run. There was so much we hadn’t seen but we weren’t leaving disappointed because that fact was the perfect excuse to escape to these mountains again and get lost among these most fascinating ruins.
© Olivia Wolfe ~ 2012